In France we stayed in Versailles for a few nights. I'd visited there as a student and was so impressed by the gardens then that I wanted to return. But my heart sunk when I saw the huge queue of tourists waiting to get in - it was blazing hot too and we had no intention of standing in it. Luckily you didn't need to queue for the garden and it is so huge that the crowd dispersed so we were able to enjoy our walk, finding shade in the groves surrounding the castle. What I like is the symmetry of the garden and the grand scale of it. Eventually I managed a walk around the chateau itself later when the queues had disappeared though inside it was still busy. It was just so opulent - room after room lavishly decorated with paintings and gold leaf, chandeliers, mirrors,- too much really - and, as Kate noted, obscene that one ruler should have so much wealth. No wonder the people revolted.
We stayed in an apartment in Versailles which was in a quiet courtyard near the centre. No aircon but a powerful fan and Paul spent his afternoon there watching the Tour de France. In fact he spent most afternoons of the whole holiday watching the cycling - he is not a fan of heat or of sightseeing.
I was also fascinated by this shop which we passed every day in Versailles on our walk into the town from the apartment. It was advertising pest control services and to attract customers it had a window display of stuffed animals including three rats which it claimed had been caught in the castle in 1971.
From there we drove to the west coast and had a few days there, spending most of our time in La Rochelle, a lively resort with plenty of restaurants and cafes overlooking the pretty harbour. It was a bit cooler by the coast but still rather uncomfortable to sleep and our hotel was a bit cramped and noisy at night. On our final day in France we drove north towards the Channel Tunnel staying in Montreuil where we had a really good meal in the hotel's shady courtyard. Luckily we missed the chaos which hit the Channel Tunnel shortly after our trip. All went to plan with our travel arrangements though we all agreed that we spent too much time in the car. Now that Kate has passed her test she likes to give her dad driving advice - I'll leave you to imagine how that turned out...
|Harbour in La Rochelle|